Interview with Marilu Novy & CJ Farve, Breeders of Overlook Lisiji Portuguese Water Dogs
Where do we live? How many years in dogs? How many years as breeders?
Marilu Novy & CJ Farve: The love of this breed created Overlook Lisiji Portuguese Water Dogs, which is located in Columbus and Cumming, Georgia. CJ Favre is a retired professional handler, breeder of Portuguese Water Dogs and Kerry Blue Terriers, with 30-plus years of experience. I have 20-plus years in the breed. Together we have worked at our breeding program for about 12 years.
What is our kennel name? How many dogs do we currently keep?
Marilu Novy & CJ Farve: Between us, we have seven Portuguese Water Dogs ranging from 12 years to six weeks. These dogs have multiple titles in both Conformation and Performance.
Which show dogs from the past have been our noteworthy winners?
Marilu Novy & CJ Farve: We have been fortunate to have had several top dogs in Conformation. BVIS GCH Belaluna Ferncliff Jackson BN RA CGC JWC AOM AOE (Jackson) was part of the foundation to our current line of Water Dogs. He was a magnificent showman in the ring. His daughter, GCHP Overlook Lisiji Meant To Bee RN ACT1 ACTJ1 CGC JWC AOM (Honey), entered the ring with his same presence. She, in turn, produced our current special, BIS RBIS GCG Overlook Lisiji Everything Will Bee Alright JWC (Hope), who is leading us on a spectacular journey. We cannot exclude our Foundation Bitch, GCHB Aviators Blackjack Drama Queen At Overlook CD RE NAP NJP OFP TKI CGCU WWDX GROM (Bee), who has shown beauty and talent in the Performance and Conformation rings.
Which have been our most influential sires and dams?
Marilu Novy & CJ Farve: Both CJ and myself were fortunate to have had Colville and Ann Jackson as our mentors in the breed. Colville understood breeding, and hopefully we have learned at least half of what he tried to teach us. This has helped in our decisions with our breeding program. We research every pedigree and the structure of every dog that we consider for our program.
Can we talk a bit about our facilities? Where are our puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Marilu Novy & CJ Farve: All of our puppies are raised in a home environment. The puppies are raised with the protocol set forth in Jerry Hope’s book, The Breeder’s Guide to Raising Superstar Dogs, and are given appropriate vet care. We also have a great working relationship with the Theriogenology Department at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. If our pups are not whelped at home, they are brought into the world by the caring staff of the Auburn Vet School. We also counsel and guide our puppy owners as well as the puppies of our stud dogs throughout the life of the dogs.
What is our “process” for selecting Show Puppies? Performance Puppies?
Marilu Novy & CJ Farve: CJ and I feel that a good, conformationally structured dog, which is bred to our Breed Standard, will be a great Performance Dog. If the dog cannot move on land, then how can we expect it to move effortlessly in water as it was bred to do? So, all of our dogs are considered for Conformation and Performance during their eight-week-old evaluation.
Do we compete in Performance Events? In Parent Club Tests & Trials?
Marilu Novy & CJ Farve: Currently, our dogs are training for Water Trials as established by the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America. These trials replicate what these dogs were bred to do. They start at a basic level, then the next levels build on this. The dogs at the Master level are in excellent condition and can do the job of their breed.
How would we define “conditioning” as it relates to our breed?
Marilu Novy & CJ Farve: These are active dogs, so they need mental and physical stimulation constantly. Conditioning of these dogs is whatever is necessary for the sport they are involved in. However, young puppies are not ready for rigorous walks and runs until their growth plates are together. They can do walks, just not long walks. So, short and sweet, but you can do several walks a day.
Are there any health-related concerns in our breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Marilu Novy & CJ Farve: Our breed does have many genetic conditions, which are outlined in the PWDCA website. We are very fortunate to have a breed club that recognizes the need to find genetic markers to give breeders an additional tool when considering a breeding pair. We work very hard to ensure that the puppies we place are healthy and ready to have a good life. Our dogs are also involved in several studies that will hopefully improve the breeding possibilities and the longevity of our dogs with good quality of life.
The Shine On project at the University of Minnesota is evaluating, in part, a way to have early detection of hemangiosarcoma. Our Bee has been a part of this program for years. Auburn University is in the early stages of trying to find a genetic marker for hypoluteoidism, which is loss of progesterone during pregnancy. Our dogs are the starting point for this study. This tool will not only aid Portuguese Water Dogs, but all purebred dogs.
Is our breed well suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own our breed?
Marilu Novy & CJ Farve: They can be a first-time dog, but the owner must take the time with them for early training and socialization. Daily stimulation of body and mind is required. By doing this, you are getting what you would get with any dog; a great bond and a deep love from your dog. With guidance from us, the breeders, young families are good candidates to have a Water Dog. As we tell all potential owners,
NO dog should ever be left alone with any child and vice versa. In addition, older adults are also great owners of this breed. All of our contracts stipulate that should a family not be able to take care of their dog, they are to return it to our care. With several of our older owners, we have already agreed where the dogs are to go should they no longer be able to care for their dogs.
What is the biggest misconception about our breed? What is our breed’s best-kept secret?
Marilu Novy & CJ Farve: Portuguese Water Dogs are a robust, medium-built, active dog with great loyalty and an obedient nature, but they are not for everyone. They are extremely smart and need to be guided into becoming great family dogs. As a friend recently said, if they are not given a job they will become self-employed. That is the best line ever for describing a PWD.
If we could share a comment or two with judges of our breed, what would we like to say to them?
Marilu Novy & CJ Farve: Regarding the judging of our breed, have a sense of humor. Judges, please put your hands on our dogs. We are a breed with two acceptable coat and clip types. Both wavy and curly dogs can be sculpted to give the impression of a good structure. Please feel through the hair to get the essence of the dog. Movement in our breed is critical. They should be correct going and coming as well as good reach and drive on the go-around.
Think, can this dog work in the water? The late judge Ann Schwartz said that if she felt the dog being presented could not swim across the lake, get her lunch, and bring it back easily, it wasn’t a correct Water Dog. Our breed has a fading gene which is seen predominately in the brown dogs (they turn café au lait), but it also exists in blacks (they turn a silver to grey). Judge the dog, not the color of the dog.
One note: pigment of black on the black dogs and brown on the browns should be present. Lastly, please understand that PWDs are happy, energetic dogs that will do unexpected things in a show ring. Enjoy the show… they will settle and do their job.
Do we have any words of wisdom to pass along to newer breeders?
Marilu Novy & CJ Farve: For new breeders, please learn from those who have been in the breed for a while. Most breeders love to talk about what to look for in breeding and will mentor you. Don’t jump into breeding without doing your homework. There is more to breeding than putting two dogs together and raising the pups. The PWDCA is a great resource, as are other breeders. If you don’t compete in any part of the dog sports, I strongly suggest that you at least go to a Conformation show to talk to the handlers, owners, and breeders who are there. Go to a Water Trial. These are listed on the PWDCA website, and everyone there will be eager to discuss Portuguese Water Dogs. Get involved with the breed club. As stated earlier, do your homework.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing we’ve ever experienced with a Working Dog?
Marilu Novy & CJ Farve: Portuguese Water Dogs are working dogs with a sense of humor. They are like potato chips, you can’t have just one. So, if you are fortunate to own one, hold on… it is a wonderful, funny, and enjoyable ride.